We’ve put together a fantastic list of resources that you can watch, listen to and read to examine the different facets of women’s work. We hope it’ll open up spaces for conversation and reflection as we make our collective way towards an equitable reality for women. From feminist comics to gut wrenching films of women’s struggles to live and breathe, we have you covered.
- Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star): Ritwik Ghatak’s 1960 film in Bengali is set in a small settlement outside Calcutta after partition and follows the story of Neeta, a young woman, on whom the burden of supporting her family falls. Self sacrificing and hard working, she toils on and on, but it’s an effort that goes unrecognised by her family. The film takes a close, hard look at how Neeta’s dreams are torn asunder and the toll it takes in what is one of Indian cinema’s greatest tragedies.
- Mahanagar: Satyajit Ray’s 1963 film is based on a short story by Narendranath Mitra. Aarti, a young woman whose life revolves around her family and keeping house, starts working as a saleswoman when her husband’s salary isn’t enough to support the household. As a working woman, the dynamics in the household shift as each member responds to their idea of what is appropriate for a woman. The film is as relevant now in all the questions it raises as it was when Ray made it.
- Nil Battey Sannata: Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, the film tells the tale of a single mother, Chanda who worksa as a domestic help, and her daughter, Apeksha who she is determined to put through school so she has an opportunity to choose her own future. As Chanda juggles multiple jobs, the film looks at the everyday reality of a woman from a low income household and the struggles that come with it as she finds a way to motivate her daughter to study.
- Sorry we missed you: Searingly honest, Ken Loach’s 2019 film on the gig economy doesn’t hold its punches on the failures of modern society. It does this by shining the spotlight on the characters in the story- Abby and Ricky, a couple and their two children. Abby is a carer, looking after the elderly and disabled. It’s a zero-hour contract job, aka no sick leave, no pay for extra time, holidays. It’s work she does with immense care and compassion. Evident too is how difficult the work is and how little that is recognised in terms of the pay she receives for it. It’s a wrenching, necessary film to watch.
- Roma: Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 film opens with a close up of the tiled courtyard in a house being washed and mopped. The rest of the film is as intimate as the opening sequence as it tells the story of Cleo who works as a live-in house help in an upper class family’s home. As her life unravels, so does that of her employer, Sofia. It’s a story of domestic life, set in a period of social unrest, and speaks volumes about class relations. Watch it on Netflix.
- In The public value of care and the politics of women’s work, economist Jayati Ghosh from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi unpacks care work done by women and what the impact of this unpaid and underpaid work is, especially in developing societies. If you’re looking to dive into how care work plays out and why public policy change is critical, listen to this.
- In The Economics of the Issue, Devika Kher talks about the drop in women’s participation in the workforce and its link to women’s work in the home. Listen to other Women in Labour podcasts here.
- The Mental Load- A Feminist Comic: With simple line drawings, Emma explores feminist and social issues like unpaid care work, and the mental load that women carry of household responsibilities. With humour and directness, she explores what it means to be a woman and the multiple injustices that women face in their lived realities.
- Never Done and Poorly Paid- Women’s Work in Globalising India: Written by Jayati Ghosh, Professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, the book examines changes in the nature of women’s work since the early 1990s. It looks at domestic employment patterns and the unpaid work of women in households. The book provides a rigorous analysis of these aspects and situates it within the context of wider economic processes.